Afternoon Tea at Tea Cake

A simply superb offering from this mother-daughter team.


Ladies, Gentlemen, and the rest*: This is how it's done.

Anneka and I went for afternoon tea on Valentine's Day this year. She chose Tea Cake, which is in Getliffe's Yard in Leek, in the Staffordshire Moorlands. As readers of my previous reviews will know, we've not had a great deal of success in finding a fantastic afternoon tea. We've had good ones, awful ones, and mediocre ones, but not a single place was outstanding. So it was with some trepidation we approached the door to this establishment...

When we arrived, we were quickly shown to our table. It was clear that they had gone the extra mile - after all, it was the most commercial romantic day of the year for couples!

It was a nice touch to have the hearts, roses and bunting on the table. Well, the heart shaped bunting was over the table (and I forgot to take a photo!) but you get the idea. Most of the seating area is upstairs, but they have two tables downstairs which are accessible for disabled people. A note on that though: Getliffe's yard is cobbled, but fairly level and should be easy for most to travel along. This is the view from our table:

Although we had booked a table and pre-ordered, the menu was on the table. This was nice, as it gave us the chance to see what else is on offer here and, if we enjoyed it our meal, to make recommendations to others.

As soon as we were seated, we were asked what we'd like to drink and what cake we'd like. As always, Anneka had tea and I asked for lemonade. I wasn't expecting to be given a choice of lemonade, but they had Fentiman's Rose and Victorian ones. I chose the Victorian one, as I'd had the rose one elsewhere recently. There was a good selection of cakes on offer, and we decided upon a lemon drizzle cake and a Malteser cake. I like to see if things are 'lemony enough' (they usually aren't) as I'm a bit of a freak with lemony things and we'd never seen a Malteser cake anywhere. We like the unusual!

It wasn't long before our afternoon tea arrived, and it looked delicious. For the sandwiches, there was red pepper and hummus, Brie and cranberry, egg mayonnaise, and cheddar and chutney. As sandwich ingredients go, the fillings are pretty standard vegetarian fayre, but it was the execution that made the difference here. The ingredients were fresh, and carefully chosen, and the sandwiches were delicious. You can see how happy we were:

We did have to ask for a couple of spoons for the jam and clotted cream, but that is the case everywhere. Here though the lady understood why we'd asked and it was no trouble at all. While we waited, we noticed a couple of things. Firstly, there was heart-shaped shortbread on the saucer with the teacups. These were nice.

Secondly, there was a proper sugar bowl with proper sugar cubes, and sugar cube tongs. This shows the amount of extra thought that has gone into this, as most places use either granulated sugar or little packets of sugar.

Lastly, go through the photos again. Pay close attention to the design on the wall (behind the roses) and the design on the crockery. Notice anything? The design matches. When we commented on this, we were told that the lady's daughter (who runs the tea room with her mum) is a designer. She'd picked out the crockery and then copied the design onto the wall - by hand. This was a wonderful little touch!

We asked if they could warm the scones up, which they did with no fuss at all. They were delicious. In fact, they were so good we both forgot to take a proper photo of them! There was a decent portion of jam and clotted cream served with them too. So many places give you huge scones, but a tiny amount of jam. Here, we felt the proportions were right. There was also some butter, which I can never understand. Who has butter on their scones?

To finish, we had the cakes. We had half each so we'd each be able to try them. The lemon drizzle cake was lemony enough - or rather it was the correct amount of lemon for a normal person! I like things so lemony it would turn most peoples faces inside out, but I'm a freak. For everyone else though, this cake would be perfect! The Malteser cake was really something else. It was moist, very chocolatey without being overpowering, and the Malteser chocolate icing (or topping as I'm not sure icing is correct) was fantastic! It's rare to find a cake anywhere that is this good, so it got me curious. When we'd finished and went to pay, I asked the mother of the two how she'd done that. It turns out it's what she used to do before opening Tea Cake with her daughter... That would explain it!

Overall, the Tea Cake is excellent. This mother and daughter team really know what they're doing. It's clear that they have a genuine passion for what they do, and have not just opened an establishment because it's currently fashionable. After all the bandwagon jumpers have fallen by the wayside, these two will still be here.

This place is so good that Anneka is taking her friends soon, and we are going her for a family meal in the summer to celebrate Anneka's 30th birthday. I've said it at the start of this post, and I'll say it again - This is how it's done.

* I can't keep up with how many genders we have these days, so this includes everyone who doesn't identify as a lady or a gentleman. By 'the rest' there is no disrespect intended at all - if I intended to disrespect I'd just go ahead and do it!

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